Feb. 19 — To the Editor:
Recently, I heard a disgruntled voter remark about ranked choice voting: "Where were the same high-minded calls for election reform when Governor Baldacci was elected with 36 percent of the vote?" While one can appreciate this sort of sentiment following one of the most turbulent gubernatorial campaigns in recent memory, we should not politicize such an important opportunity to enact non-partisan electoral reform.
Ranked choice voting does not favor one party over another. Republican, Democratic, Green and Libertarian parties across the country have endorse ranked choice voting. Furthermore, President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain are among the many prominent political leaders who also support this reform. In Maine, newspapers such as the Portland Press Herald and the Brunswick Times Record and organizations such as the League of Women Voters of Maine have all endorsed ranked choice voting.
We need to look at the problem of minority winners in meaningful context. The fact of the matter is that over the last 40 years, only two governors have been elected with a majority of support. Before Paul LePage, there was John Baldacci and before John Baldacci, even Angus King only received 35% of the vote in his first election!
The bottom line is that ranked choice voting ensures that our leaders are elected with a majority of support. Visualize the impact that this would have on all avenues of our democracy. We would see a reduction in negative campaigning, a reduction in the influence of big, organized money and reduction in gridlock—all because our leaders would have a clear-cut mandate to lead!
There is no conservative or liberal agenda here. The only agenda is the promotion and preservation of a healthy democracy--and that’s a Maine tradition. Join me in supporting the campaign for ranked choice voting."
Editor's note: According to the Maine League of Women Voters: "Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (i.e. first, second, third, fourth and so on). Voters have the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish. First choices are then tabulated, and if only two candidates received votes, the one with the most votes wins. Otherwise, the last-place candidate is eliminated. Voters who chose the now-eliminated candidate have their ballots added to the totals of their second-ranked candidate. For all other voters, their first choice still counts."